Blog

The Dark Ages of Written English

In many ways, we are in the midst of the dark ages of written English. Okay, maybe that is a bit overstated... But humor me for a moment. Sixty percent of students read below grade level! Only three percent of adults read at the highest level of proficiency. Countless adults struggle with spelling. This is mirrored in the reality that less than two percent of educators with whom I speak know why there is a silent final E in have or why the C in trace says /s/. Yet these rules are foundational to reading and spelling in English.

It's not the teachers' fault. Teachers can only teach what they know. As a culture we no longer know how our language works. We are in the midst of the dark ages of written English. The average person has no idea why words are spelled in a particular manner, and most of the words they know are exceptions to the rules they did learn.

The dismal literacy rates will only change when all English speakers begin to understand how English works. Our children will learn best not when a few experts are teaching them, but when parents have answers to their children's most basic questions about words. "Why is there a silent final E in large?" "Why does racial have a ci in it?" Our nation's entire reading level will increase, and thereby our creativity, productivity, competitiveness in the world, and general well being will also soar. When everyone learns that the written letters are a code - a complex code, but a code nonetheless - and when everyone has the tools to crack the code, we will enter a new age of exploration and discovery.